you don't know it's right until it's wrong
Orlando calls Billy, first time in six months, and tells him that "the international tourist destination for this year is New Zealand, and it's all because of Rings!" He sounds like a bloody tour operator, and Billy couldn't give less of a shit about the tourist season in Wellington, whether or not he's responsible for it.
So Billy says, "Don't you have a new movie coming out next week?" and Orlando launches into a long monologue about shooting something he calls "historical realism" and the trials of filming sword fights in period costumes, which is not what Billy meant at all - what he meant was, "Isn't everyone over that yet?"
He doesn't mean to devalue the whole experience, he really doesn't. But it's been a year and a half since the last film, a year since the Oscars where they won everything and everyone cried, eight months since he and Dom recorded their commentary for the last DVD - Billy's moved on, and he can't help but wonder if everyone else maybe hasn't. Not that it was bad - just that it's over, and he's got new projects that he's just as committed to. He's been thinking about the theater again, anyway, and that's a step in the right direction.
Eventually Orlando talks himself out and Billy promises to see the film (which he won't, but the adverts have been on the damn telly so frequently that he already kind of feels like he has), and after Orlando's rung off, Billy sits on the floor in the kitchen and stares at the postcards on his fridge.
Dom would know what Billy's feeling - if Dom was answering Billy's calls, which he's not, but according to Orlando, he's not answering anyone's, so Billy's not too wounded by it - if Dom was taking his calls, Billy would call him even though it's the middle of the night or really just too early in the morning in Hawaii, and he'd complain about Orlando and his tourists and his daft trying-too-hard-to-be-historical movie.
But Dom's not taking his calls. Dom is sending Billy bloody postcards, the cheapest, tackiest tourist sort, and Billy gets the idea that Dom is actively searching these postcards out, that he's trying to drive Billy 'round the bend with lurid Technicolor scenes of Hawaii. Because Dom, see, Dom's moved on, but he's still living in a tourist's paradise, which is the whole reason Billy wanted to call him and whinge about Orlando.
Who needs New Zealand when you've got Hawaii, Billy thinks, and he doesn't mean to sound as bitter as he thinks he probably does. He can only read the postcards so many times before he starts to wish for something fresh, something new to talk about. But the cards don't change, and no matter how many times he reads them, they always say the same things.
He pulls the one with the bleach-blonde toothy surfer girls on the front down first, from where the magnet holds it to the fridge. It's one of the oldest, one of the first from when Dom wasn't living out there full-time even. Then, it seemed like to Billy, that it was just a visit, just a phase Dom was going through, and somehow ... well, Billy tries not to think about how things turn permanent. Mostly that only makes him sad. Bills, the back says, waves were great today. Ian gave himself a black eye with his board and JJ went batshit when he saw. Come out. I miss you.
There's one with a sunset postmarked from the week they nearly killed Charlie off on the show - Make sure you watch, is all it says. Billy did, and he called Dom after, but no answer - straight to voicemail, and even Dom's message is new lately. There's a girl giggling in the background, and Billy's not stupid nor is he particularly hopeful. He's seen Dom and Evangeline on the pages of the tabs, and frankly, he's happier with Ali.
Billy means that when he says it. He just misses Dom sometimes, is all, and the postcard of a volcano exploding that says, Did we ever want to kill each other in New Zealand? Because I'd like to crack some heads in down here today. And another postmarked two days later that says, Don't mind me, the cast's really a bunch of good blokes. And birds. Evangeline's lovely, for example.
Dom sends postcards - Billy returns them with phone messages.
Billy has 27 postcards stuck with magnets to the front of his fridge, and he pulls them all down. Shooting was rough this week. I could use a vacation - Have you seen Elijah's new film? Creepy bloody crap, that. - How're you? How's Ali? One at a time, in no particular order, until he's run his fingers along the edges of all of them and stacked them beside his feet on the kitchen floor.
It's late enough in the afternoon that the light is starting to filter orange and red through the windows over the sink, tiny bits of dust floating in the air, and Billy thinks, staring at his stack of indecipherable postcards, that he should perhaps clean more often - or hire a service. He's got enough money not to worry about things like mopping the floor if he doesn't really want to.
He's sitting on the floor, in a sticky spot from where he dropped a bottle of juice last week, watching the dust float through light that's on its way to being a sunset, and he's staring at nine months' worth of postcards from his best mate in the world, and he hasn't the faintest idea what he's actually doing sitting there, wallowing in postcards. He's about to sigh, as melodramatically as he can manage, and drop his head into his hands, and just give up, when the post thumps through the slot on the front of the door, scattering paper-whispers and heavy catalogue thuds on the floor of his front room.
Billy leaves the postcards stacked on the floor and gets up for the mail, because he can't think of what else he should be doing right now. Mopping the floor, maybe. He doesn't want to, as he doesn't really want to call Dom, except that's a lie, and the thing about not wanting to mop isn't.
Instead he picks the post up off the floor, and sifts through it: a fat package from his agent that's probably a script, tossed onto the sofa for looking at later; a couple of bills, tucked onto the end table for safekeeping; a letter from Margaret, a letter from a charity he and Ali gave to last year, an advert for a charge card he doesn't need.
Postcard from Dom, quick as a phone call and just as unexpected, with terrifying tropical fish and two sentences, scrawled in Dom's uneven hand: Please bring a jug of milk when you come home. The stuff in the fridge's gone all rotten.
What it says is nonsense; what Dom means is I miss you, and Billy has 28 postcards that all say that in a hundred-thousand different ways.
Author's notes: For camilla, belatedly, on her birthday. Epigraph from Josh Ritter's "Come and Find Me", title stolen shamelessly from Carrie Fisher.